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MSSD Alumni Association Takes On Hollywood-Style Glamour for Fundraising

The Model Secondary School for the Deaf Alumni Association (MSSDAA) hosted an elegant red carpet opening on September 30 for the East Coast premiere of ASL Films' newest comedy, Versa Effect. The film is a comedy involving switched identities. Proceeds from the ticket sales went to support the MSSDAA 50th anniversary fund.

 At a fancy dress wine and cheese reception following the film screening at Gallaudet's Andrew Foster Auditorium, the film's producer,  Mark Wood,  and the two leading stars, Rosa Lee Timm and Russell Harvard, mingled with the guests. Members of the audience from Gallaudet and the Clerc Center who watched the film recognized a familiar face in actor Chuck Baird, who plays the role of an assistant coach. Baird, a well-known deaf artist with many ties to Gallaudet, worked as an artist-in-residence at both MSSD and the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School last year.

 A Hollywood movie style banner with a pattern of MSSDAA, MSSD and ASL Films logos was THE place for a photo op, with the guests posing like would-be stars. The movie was shown again the following evening at MSSD's Theatre Malz as part of MSSD's Homecoming. There was an outstanding turnout with over 600 tickets sold. "It was a two-thumbs up event," said MSSDAA president Ken Elks.

The screening of Versa Effect is the second East Coast opening of an ASL Films production that the MSSDAA has hosted as a fundraiser. Last year, it premiered Black Sand. The films feature actors using ASL, and can be shown with captions for general audiences. Versa Effect is the sixth movie made by ASL Films.

Elks initiated the idea of hosting new film openings. He was looking for fun ways to raise funds for the alumni association and for alumni, the deaf community, and people interested in deaf culture to get together for social events.  When he read about ASL Films, an independent, deaf-owned and deaf- operated production company, he approached the owner and producer, Mark Woods, with a proposal.  It turned out that Woods was looking for ways to promote his company's film releases that starred all deaf actors in films whose topics range from family stories and comedies to romances and thrillers. It was from those two ideas that the MSSD-ASL Films series collaboration got its start.